Were more or fewer wolves killed than expected?

People will ask that question, but it’s hard to answer because there were so many different predictions. I said “it depends.”

Here are some stories.

Idaho wolf hunt draws to a close. By Roger Phillips. Idaho Statesman.
First wolf-hunting season a success, official says. Betsy Z. Russell. The Spokesman-Review
new- Wolf hunt ends; state quota not met. Changes likely if second hunt allowed.
By Nate Poppino. Times-News writer

185> 187 188 wolves were killed in the hunt that lasted as long 7 months in some places. The statewide quota was 220 wolves. So the quota wasn’t reached, but the various hunt zones all had sub-quotas and many of these were filled and some filled relatively quickly. All told, 5 of the 12 hunt zones did not meet their quota.

Here is the official Idaho wolf hunt page after season’s close

The zone they fell the most short in was the controversial Lolo hunting zone where for a long time the claim has been there are huge numbers of wolves and few elk.  I discount that more and more as time goes by because wolves have to eat and if there are just a few elk (the case since 1996) how can there be very many wolves?  Wolves aren’t omnivorous. They can’t eat berries while an elk herd grows to a size that will support the wolf packs thought to exist.

If you look at the 2009 Idaho wolf report, the hard count of wolves in the area (21 wolves) is 6 less than the hunt quota of 27, with the rest of wolf packs just names in the wolf report, complete with ghostly boundaries. All told, 13 wolves were killed there during the long season.

There is no doubt the elk harvest has been poor in the Lolo for about 13 years, as the Fish and Game graph below shows. I see in a recent news story Idaho’s director of Fish and Game said elk hunting used to be great. That’s true, but as you can see, that was 20 or more years ago.

I don’t think there ever was the number of wolves present many people thought because the elk prey base collapsed before wolves even appeared on the scene (the first wolf pack was about 1997). Even if there were a huge number of wolves, they probably migrated to nearby hunting units or just disappeared.

The Montana hunting season, in contrast to the Idaho hunting season, closed quickly as that state’s quota was met.  Montana’s wolf quota was lower than Idaho’s but not that much lower proportionately. I think the most likely explanation is that wolf hunting is easier in the open landscape of Montana.

Next year, if the federal court allows a wolf hunt to be held, Idaho is expected to have a higher quota and more “generous” (less sporting) hunting methods allowed. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission seems to be in grief that more wolves were not killed, and that the Idaho wolf population has stabilized rather than fallen sharply.

It seems to me a moderate Fish and Game Commission could maybe just call the whole thing even and ratchet down the controversy with next year’s hunt with a few adjustments and a similar quota.

. . . . but I guess we are all having too much fun for that 😉

Update 4/1/10: Here are the numbers of elk graphed from the chart found here.  Note that the rate of decline appears fairly consistent over time.

Elk numbers in Lolo Unit 10

Elk numbers in Lolo Unit 12

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

96 Responses to Idaho wolf hunt finally ends

  1. jon says:


    Harvested wolves ranged in size from 54 to 127 pounds – males averaged 100 pounds, and females averaged 79 pounds. Of the wolves taken, 58 percent were male, and 15 percent were juveniles less than one year old.

    So much for the monster canadian wolf theory. 🙂

  2. jon says:

    I guess Idaho fish and game will allow anything to be used in order for a whiny hunter to bag his wolf. The days of fair chase are coming to an end. Now it is about making sure you get your wolf no matter what the means.

    • JimT says:

      It’s all about a second round of ridding the lower 48 of wolves…they just don’t have the cajones to admit it in public.

  3. jon says:

    Ralph. I read on another website that Idaho fish and game are planning to reduce the # of wolves to 519 next fall.

    • jon,

      Yes that his been their plan for quite a while. Conservation groups mostly will not accept it. Many would like to see wolves grow to their natural limit and then, probably like Yellowstone Park, decline to whatever. I don’t have a problem with that. It might be less than 500 wolves.

      That said, Idaho’s insistence on 519 will be a continual bone of contention, and many of us believe that is just their goal until Judge Molloy rules. If he rules in favor of delisting, the Idaho goal will soon be 150 or 100.

  4. jon says:

    JimT, I copied and pasted that comment from the skinnymoose article I posted.

    • JimT says:

      I know, but let’s not perpetuate it here. It just helps people accept the term, define the parameters of the dialogue. There was a book written a few years ago about speech, and how the Bush Republicans were using terms to deliberately dumb down, disguise and sanitize otherwise unacceptable, violent, or illegal behaviors. I wish I could remember the book, but it really stuck with me, now the use of rhetoric can define a debate, and how good the Republicans were at it.

  5. JimT says:

    Let’s not speculate on next year just yet. I am still betting on Malloy. More importantly, how do we figure out what the impact of hunting wolves during denning season has been or will be? Assuming we lost some litters and moms, how can the state say we need the same number of wolves killed next year or even more?

    Listing is the only answer to this insanity of the state’s programs. That will give us time to address the public lands ranching issue, the issue of the lack of proactive measures being required as part of permit conditions; the issue of why elk are really disappearing in some areas…

    This assumes, of course, that anti wolf folks want answers, not just bodies up on a wall to be photographed.

    • Layton says:

      “Assuming we lost some litters and moms”

      “moms”?? Kind of a funny comment in view of your tirade about the use of the word “harvest”. Shouldn’t one just use the word female(s)??

  6. jon says:

    I’m with you 100% JimT. It is killing plain and simple. They should start calling it what it really is and that is killing wolves. Idaho fish and game wants to get the wolves down to a # they think is appropriate. I doubt they care about all of the wolves that would be killed in the process. They cater to elk hunters and the farmers. It took quite a few years to get wolves to where there are and most of that hard work will be lost when a good portion of these wolves in Idaho will be killed by a hunter with a gun. It is truly disgusting.

  7. WM says:


    Could you enumerate what constitutes “the insanity of the states’ [wolf] programs?”

    And, I know this is a useless cause with you, but the term “harvest,” to my knowledge, is a long-standing wildlife management term used in the discipline, relevant texts and the jargon for probably most states throughout the country, regardless of wildlife species. Just why should the term be different for wolves, than say bears, cougar, fox or any ungulates? Would the term change, in your view, depending on whether the species is ESA listed or not? Just trying to understand the logic / reasoning behind your views.

    • JimT says:

      No, the term wouldn’t change. You harvest plants, you kill animals, fish, insects. As for jargon, it is just a way for the wildlife agencies and folks to hide behind euphemisms, innocent sounding terms that disguise the true nature of the event. And just because it has been happening for awhile doesn’t make it accurate or correct, WM.

      State’s programs are currently designed to get rid of the wolf; you can see it in their language, and in their conduct. Just because you may agree with their goal doesn’t make it false. When an agency such as the state agencies in the wolf states are so beholden to a few political groups and philosophies (elk good, wolf bad, cow dumb but western tradition) that efforts get skewed the way they have withe the wolf…it doesn’t strike a reasoned note with me. Their efforts to get of the wolf are only hampering efforts to solve the wolf-elk-livestock conflict.

    • JimT says:

      And yeah, if you mean by useless effort to use the proper terms to describe specific actions, your efforts are useless. I thought you were an attorney; I thought you would know the importance of words and correct use.

    • JB says:

      The term “harvest” is almost always employed in the management context, and likely originated because early wildlife management was based upon an agricultural model. The first book on wildlife management (to my knowledge) was Leopold’s “Game Management”, which described the activity as the “the art of making land produce sustained annual crops of wild game for recreational use”.

      If one accepts this agricultural model, then the term “harvest” is appropriate to describe regulated hunting. It is not, however, every accurately used to describe agency “control” actions (another euphemism for “kill”) nor poaching.

      Personally, I don’t like using the word “harvest” for any animal that isn’t consumed. Nobody talks about “harvesting” crows.

  8. WM says:

    Another way to measure this is that 5 of 12 wolf hunting zones did not achieve their harvest / quota goals even after a three month season extension. Does this mean the wolves are not in those units in sufficient numbers to warrant the harvest goal, or that hunting of wolves is much more difficult in certain types of terrain, or that the goals in some of the other units whose goals were met (some early) were set too low?

    These are the kinds of questions game management agencies ask of other species every year. Why should it be different for wolves?



    When Judge Molloy rules, as you well know, it will be based on whether FWS met its statutory obligations in its delisting regulations under the ESA. If he rules against FWS, specifically on the tecnicalities of the DPS designation and no plan for WY, I fully expect he will have some verbage in the opinion basically saying on the numbers alone, and genetic connectivity, this is not an endangered species, and the management plans of two of three states are being carried out at present within the spirit of the law.

    • JimT says:

      The biology doesn’t support your assertions, especially about genetic connectivity. In fact, that was specifically pointed out by Judge Malloy in a previous ruling.

      As for putting wolves in with game animals, you assume that they should be game animals. When you have the numbers wolves that you do elks in terms of assuring the survival of a species, talk to me. Until then, the analogy is suspect.

    • WM says:


      ++The biology doesn’t support your assertions, especially about genetic connectivity. In fact, that was specifically pointed out by Judge Malloy in a previous ruling.++

      I and others have addressed this issue before in some detail on other threads. If I understand correctly, FWS, the states and even the authors of the study (von Holdt and Wayne) were particularly disturbed/irritated by the way DOW plaintiffs misrepresented the results of the study, and the reliance on the Isle Royal experience (which I think of as the sick real world secret island of Dr. Moreau). This was discussed at pp. 16-24 in Molloy’s 2008 ruling. Again, I expect Judge Molloy will address deficiencies in his previous ruling, if any, in this round.

      JimT, let me be clear. I am not (personally) making assumptions about wolves as game animals. I am just pointing out facts. The NRM states have already codified it, and are managing wolves as game animals. I have not checked, for comparison in the Great Lakes, WA or OR, but expect there is a good probability they have also made such a classification, or will do so in the future. For example, WI has already been discussing for sometime a wolf hunting season. How could they have a season if it was not a game animal? Forgive my candor here, but you are off the mark, sport.

    • JimT says:

      Sport? LMAO. Is that the best you can do?

      We will wait until Malloy rules, and then if it goes the way I think it will go, I hope to see a video of you eating the opinion….~S~ You seem so sure you know what Malloy is going to write. Did you clerk for him, or know his present clerks?

    • WM says:


      LMAO. I don’t text and don’t abbreviate much since it often leaves room for ambiguity, and requires the receiver to discern the sender’s intent. I’m guessing you didn’t mean “lick me all over”, but rather laughing my ass off. LOL, ooops, I mean lots of laughter.

      “Sport” was a reference to your choice not to recognize the the rules that others seeem to be playing by (the ones who actually make the rules), and was certainly not meant in a derogatory manner. You would know if I was headed that direction.

      As for Molloy, like everyyone else, I have no basis to know how or even when he will rule. You read too much into my comment. He is a thoughtful guy and given the history of this case and its complicated issues, he will likely throw each side a bone in the verbage of the opinion as he reasons through his legal justification to the bottom line, which at least one side will not like.

      However, I have suggested before there is a substantial probability he will put wolves back on the list, but will do so for technical DPS definition reasons. It is less probable it will be for the connectivity and genetic biology, if he even reaches the issue. But then, that is just my opinion.

    • JimT says:

      I just reread Malloy’s 2008 opinion, and he goes out of his way to lecture the FWS for changing its criteria for genetic mixing among the three groups of reintroduced wolves with no scientific basis; it went from ensuring mixing to the “potential for mixing”. I would say that if a judge call specific attention to an agency action with a critical and skeptical eye, it is a good bet that will figure in his next decision.

      BTW, I was under the impression that “game animals” traditionally and legally were animals meant to be eaten. Had any wolf lately?

    • WM says:


      ++BTW, I was under the impression that “game animals” traditionally and legally were animals meant to be eaten.++

      Well, Jim, you are flat out wrong on that one in most Western states.

      The name of ID’s wildlife management agency is “Fish and GAME.” Their statutes define “game” in several places, including big game (which relies on a Boone & Crockett classification, which apparently has a measuring system for wolves, so I was told earlier on this forum) and the also define “upland game”; MT’s wildlife agency is “GAME, Fish and Parks;” and it is “WYoming Game and Fish.” They also define game animals in their statutes, to include animals that are not edible.

      One last reference, and I am sure there are more, is that the state of WI recognizes crows as a game species. Care to eat a little crow, JimT? LOL

      Again for Judge Molloy, I am going to venture he has learned quite a bit over the last two years about wolf biology, techiniques of advocacy involving both sides of the issues, and maybe even better appreciates the science and stakeholder conflicts. The thing about the genetic connectivity argument is that it is incredibly artificial in this wildlife management context. Move some wolve within the NRM or bring in some new from Canada – no big deal- and the genetic objection goes away pretty damn quickly – that is if you can keep track of where they are going and with whom they are breeding. This, of course, means more collaring and darting, and invasive DNA testing, to meet the previous claims and objections of no clear documentation of the genetic exchange. That is what makes the argument so incredibly stupid. Some wolf advocates don’t want them tracked so that they can continue to object that there is “no proof of genetic connectivity.”

  9. Si'vet says:

    Here’s a little LoLo background the charts graphs don’t explain. Elk hunting season’s in the 70’s were a long drawn out season, much of it based on limited access, not everyone had a 4 wheel drive. As access improved the “killing” of elk especially cow elk greatly increased and it took the F&G time to respond and reduce and start to greatly limit the seasons, and harvest numbers. So starting in the 80’s with changes in hunting season length and cow “killing” elk numbers quickly grew and killing even in the shorter seasons improved, note graph. Then the winter of 92/93 took a huge toll on not just the LoLo elk, but wildlife through out the Rockies. Just as the recovery started to shape up winter of 95/96 came along and put a huge dent once again in the deer and elk numbers especially in the LoLo and northern parts of the state. The F&G responded and has been limiting tags in this area for years to help with the recovery, which if you look, generally takes about 7 to 10 yrs. or so, barring any intervention, disasters, fires (which improve) etc. With the reduction in tags and season length the total head count for elk should be well above the 2200 est. with the very slow habitat change in this area. And again for those of you who are unfamiliar with the LoLo, the dense cover, and vast roadless areas make it a very challenging area to hunt elk and “kill” wolves. Much more challenging than even the wilderness areas like the FC which is very open compared to the LoLo. If you doubt the wolf numbers in the LoLo get and take a camping trip (mid August) you will see wolf sign and hear wolves howl, but because of the cover and terrain you won’t see them.

  10. Talks with Bears says:

    To the wolf experts – do we know exactly which species of wolf was reintroduced into the Northern Rockies? In addition, was this a native species?

    • Save Bears says:

      There has been many instances of information posted on not only this website that will answer your questions. But to say again, there is no genetic proof to say the wolves that are currently in the rocky mountain region are any different that what inhabited the area before.

  11. Save Bears says:

    not the native vs non-native thing again, this has been discussed to death on this site as well as many others…

    • JimT says:

      I agree…red herring, done and done. Move on, TWB. Try again.

    • Talks with Bears says:

      So, does anyone have an answer to my question?

    • Talks with Bears says:

      JimT – one of the few times I have seen you stumped.

    • JimT says:

      Not stumped, just tired of jumping to rehash old issues. This issue came up time and time again in discussions about re-introduction in the Northeast, and whether the native wolf was the red wolf, or the grey wolf etc. It was an effort to de-rail the discussion based on nothing tangible, just speculation.

      I am sure you can find the information yourself. Try DOW’s website for references, or a general Google search.

  12. Barb Rupers says:

    The wolves that repopulated NW Montana and N Idaho came from southern Alberta. Given the distances traveled by wolves do you have any doubt that those extripated were not related to those returning? They are all Canis lupus.

    • Talks with Bears says:

      Barb – thanks for trying – at least you were willing to help. I asked two simple questions stated above which have not been answered but, rather dismissed which leads me to believe the above experts do not have a clue. I have no doubts that those repatriated were related I am asking if they were the same wolf species?????

    • JEFF E says:

      Talks with bears,
      you can probably answer your question yourself.
      A little background
      The wolf has been divided in to sub-species for100″s of years. In North America the first widely accepted number of sub-species was 24(others thought there were 32) and that was detailed in the book “Wolves of north America” by Young and Goldman, who were the first to name c.l.Irremotus. (my first screen name way back in the Commodore days) (here is a map of Young and Goldman’s breakout: http://www.hsepb.com/ntrlrsrc/mexwolf/) with flavor # 11 being c.l. irremotus. Or the northern rocky mountain grey wolf. Or one cite says that Young and Goldman got the name from and Indian name that means”the wolf who is always going there'” although I find that a little suspect.
      SO, as a suggestion take the map and Isolate the range of c.l.irremoutos and copy that on a 11×17 transparency. Then find a map of Alberta Canada and copy that on to an 11×17 sheet of copy paper. Overlay the transparancy onto the map of Alberta and you will find that the Northern boundary seems to have been the Athabasca river, on which lays Hinton, Alberta Canada in which vicinity the MAJORITY of the reintroduced wolves were captured. Some others were captured in the vicinity of Saint Johns, British Columbia, and were bigger than those captured around Hinton. there were also ,I think two, captured from Northern Montana and went to Yellowstone.
      Now consider wolves as a pack.
      An analogy of pack territory could be if one was to take a soccer ball and cut the cover off and lay it flat. that would be a representation of what a wolf meta population would look like. Now every year these packs are shedding wolves that we call dispersers and these dispersers will go in every direction of the compass. Most don’t make it. However the % that does either 1. join another pack. 2. form there own pack and carve out a territory. Or become loners or lobos(which was the original meaning of the term). What that means is regardless of what Young and Goldman decided was a “boundary” the fact is that wolves (and every other species” have a really hard time recognizing that they are supposed to stay within the “boundary” and thus become some how unique.
      Now later Nowak modified the boundaries. Curious that he kept the same general “shape’ of the boundaries as Young and Goldman but for some reason move c.l. irremotus northern boundary some distance south , but where he put it makes even less sense as it just cuts thru the landscape, not even following a “minimal’ topographical feature such as the Athabasca.
      hen of course genetic research has rendered this pretty much a moot point.
      So do the exercise, consider the parameters and variables and draw your own conclusions.

  13. Save Bears says:


    Not that I use the term harvest, I can say, it is a term that has been used since the late 1800’s there are many historical documents by early homesteaders that say they were able to harvest a deer to feed the family, so trying to get rid of it is not going to be easy….as I said, I don’t use the term, but it has been around a long time..since before the game depts..

  14. JimT says:

    I would love to see those documents…

  15. JimT says:

    In the dictionary, there is a secondary meaning of harvest that comports with killing for human purposes. The primary meaning is to gather plants; the synonym used is reap. So, it can have both meanings, but I still hold to my opinion it is used to gentle the true nature of what is going on, especially in this context of wolf reintroduction, and we should be aware of that fact in our discussions here.

    • WM says:


      I see you all have been busy discussing the “harvest” or “kill” language, so I won’t belabor it more, except to say I have respect for the nomenclature or terms chosen by various disciplines or professions. They all have them, medical, geology, psychology, and wildlife managers. The point you miss from the dictionary definitions you quote above, is that the term “harvest” has imbedded in the definition a temporal element – the season. So, a harvest is the reaping of a crop, etc. during a season. The term “kill” does not have this, so it is a less descriptive term in the context of its applications here. The term harvest is also a more refined, gentile term that does have an element of respect as you acknowledge below in your dialog with Si’vet and SB.



      I cannot say I have ever heard of a harvest referring to any avian species. Never heard duck, goose, pheasant or quail harvest. But I have heard the term, this year’s crop of game birds – pheasants, quail, etc,, for whatever that is worth.

      So, it all this does seem steeped in the “management” discipline.

  16. Save Bears says:


    google is your friend, search for homesteader diaries, and old news papers, from the late 1800’s and the early part of the 1900’s, take a look at some of the old field and stream magazines from the early part of the century..Outdoor life, Fur, Fish and Game, etc.

    Whether you like it or have seen it before, has no bearing on whether it is correct or wrong…the term of “harvesting” an animal has been around long before any of us were even a twinkle…

  17. Save Bears says:


    There are all kinds of terms used to soften the blow per say, we don’t take our dog to the vet to be killed, we take them to the vet to be put down or euthanized, There are many things in life that different terms are used. it is done in all walks of life, whether hunting or being compassionate about our pets..

    As I said, I go hunting to kill an animal for my families consumption…

    I think as you it is far more important to focus on the issue of wolves that what term is used to describe it

    • JimT says:

      I can understand the use of “let my dog go” (by the way, hate the term put my dog down, like it was some sort of varmint to get rid of) since you have a personal relationship with the animal as a pet, and with kids, it is an effort to save them from confronting the realities of life just a tad longer. I just see the use of it in this context as highly political, to make it palatable to the general public.

      I don’t know if I was ever a “twinkle”…my mother, rest her soul, always told the stories of me being a challenging little tyke, peeing in public, saying inappropriate things, etc. ;*) She didn’t tend to tell the stories of me saving the planet…LOL.

      I think we have beat this to death. I agree that is more important to focus on the substance of the wolf reintroduction controversy; but language shapes that discussion, no way of getting around it. So, I am wary of casual use of terms.

  18. jon says:

    I like others have seen time and time again hunters pushing forward this theory of these wolves being imported non native canadian wolves. I believe these people who don’t like wolves or don’t want them living with them will tend to make up any excuse they can as to why wolves shouldn’t be allowed to live in the same place as them. The same people who bring up this theory always tend to believe that monster sized wolves inhabit Idaho, but that has proven to be false. The #s and weights are out there and public knowledge of the wolves in Idaho and they are much smaller than wolf hunters would have you believe.

  19. jon says:

    Some opponents of wolf reintroduction claim that the Canadian gray wolves released in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in the mid-1990s are a larger, more aggressive subspecies than native wolves, which were extinct by the 1930s. Biologists say there’s little or no evidence to back up that assertion.

    “I’m curious that they throw out those numbers – that the Canadian wolves are 50 to 100 pounds bigger than the native Idaho wolves,” Husseman said. “I don’t know where those numbers come from.”

    Hayden said the most authoritative research on wolf subspecies comes from a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service zoologist, Ronald Nowak, who studied 580 historic skulls of full-grown male wolves. Nowak concluded that North America had five subspecies of gray wolves. Two subspecies had historic ranges in Idaho – the Rocky Mountain wolf and the Great Plains wolf.

    The Rocky Mountain subspecies outweighed the Great Plains wolf by about 20 pounds, Hayden said. But their ranges overlapped in the Idaho Panhandle, according to Nowak’s research.

    “Realistically, there’s no difference between the subspecies. They interbreed,” Hayden said.

    In addition, “we’ve got wolves that are walking here from Canada,” he said. “They’re the same species that would have been here in the past.”

  20. Elk275 says:

    As for Idaho’s quota in some zones never being filled maybe it was from the lack of hunters. After Christmas most hunters have lost interest in hunting until the following fall. If I lived in the Lolo country I would turn my thoughts to Steel Head fishing and skiing in stead of wolf hunting or better yet take a trip to South American. I do not think that the same number of hunters were in the field this winter as were in the field during the fall.

  21. Si'vet says:

    JimT, let me explain why I use the term harvest when posting on this site or when talking about hunting with nonhunters, such as yourself. I do it out of respect, I know most here don’t hunt, and don’t understand why people hunt, or disagree with hunting all together, so in a sense if I go on about “killing” I feel I am rubbing your nose in something you don’t care for anyway. I also believe that nonhunters don’t need to see dead animal photo’s in the newpaper and have gone to lengths to try and get that reduced in my local paper (very little luck). And if a hunter is successful it is a personal thing and “should not” be displayed on the hood of the truck or sticking out the back when transporting. In fact on the post above about the LoLo I let my emotions cloud my better judgement. When posting here I am not belittling or down playing the fact that when I pull the trigger, touch my release I am killing an animal. But when I post here I will use the term harvest, with no direspect intended to you or the animal.

    • JimT says:

      Thanks for the explanation. We may not agree on all things wolf, but I do notice that you have great respect for the prey and the gift they give you when you are successful in your hunting effort.

  22. Save Bears says:


    I agree, as far as the twinkle, I think my mother, god rest her soul, would be more inclined to describe me as the cloud over her head!


  23. JimT says:

    My mom had a tradition of telling each of us (three boys, one of the other kind ;*)) a story of our childhood as a gift at Christmas. I don’t think I every heard a “good boy” story…LOL. But then, the “oops” stories often are the funniest and the most endearing when you look back with the gift of time on your side. I am glad she did it.

  24. Ken Cole says:

    I added a couple of graphs which show the actual numbers of elk from surveys rather than the harvest numbers which are affected by management decisions rather than conditions.

  25. Save Bears says:

    Talks with Bears…

    Jon posted a good amount of information, Barb posted a good synopsis, there are thousands of references to be found on the net, if you use google…and if you just use the search function included on this website, you will see that question has been answered many times..

  26. Save Bears says:


    How difficult is it to read, that there is virtually no genetic difference in the wolves re-introduced and wolves that inhabited the area before?

    • Talks with Bears says:

      Save Bears – according to Nowak Idaho was the traditional home range of the Rocky Mtn and Great Plains wolf correct? The reintroduced wolf was the Canadian, correct? Also, no genetic difference – according to Nowak there is significant difference in size between the Rocky Mtn and Great Plains – maybe the small differences in genetics makes for big differences in some important physical characteristics?

  27. jon says:

    TWB, read the comment I posted about Ron Nowak.

    • Talks with Bears says:

      Jon – thanks for the post about Nowak. Is the Great Plains wolf a.k.a the brush wolf?

    • jon says:

      Idaho’s wolves are often incorrectly called “Canadian” wolves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service only recognizes the gray wolf (Canis lupus) for recovery purposes. In the book, Wolves: Behavior, Ecology and Conservation, edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitoni, Ronald M. Nowak provides evidence for two subspecies of wolves inhabiting the central and western portions of the United States, both of which moved freely across the Canadian border. Other taxonomists reject the subspecies theory, believing that the same wolf species lived in both the western U.S. and Canada. When selecting wolves for release into Idaho, biologists selected populations in Canada that were already utilizing elk prey and were living in habitat similar to that of Idaho. This increased the suitability of these wolves for life in Idaho. Some people say that wolves used to be smaller than the reintroduced ones, but little evidence supports this claim. However, animal body size tends to increase at the northern parts of their range and is related to staying warm.

    • jon says:

      Right Barp! The anti wolf movement will continue to deny these simple facts though no matter how much proof you throw in their face. These people do not care about facts. They are going to believe what they believe in even if it is a lie. Usually when you debate them on wolves, the first two things that come out of their mouths are these wolves are not native to Idaho and they are a much larger more aggressive canadian wolf that comes from Canada. I have not seen one anti wolf person ever provide any evidence that these wolves are indeed non native and a much larger wolf than the past native ones that were wiped out.

  28. jon says:

    I’m not really sure. Ofcourse, no matter what is posted or said, there are going to be those anti wolf people who are going to believe what they want to believe regardless of facts. I myself have seen many times anti wolf people claim that the wolves that are in Idaho now are a much bigger non native canadian species of wolf. I wasn’t certain on the subspecies issue either, but doing research does help quite a bit. Maybe Ralph can give you this thoughts on the subspecies issue because I know he has been asked about it before.

  29. Save Bears says:


    You will find, yes, there are differences between wolves, just as there with humans, they are more regional differences than they are genetic differences. In my studies with Bison, I have found that depending on region and climate, they do show differences in size, coat, etc, but there is no genetic difference in the species.

    One wolf sub-species I often seen mentioned is the Buffalo Wolf, which was a bit smaller and has been challenged as a true sub species.

    So to ask, is it the same species? Yes it is, are there regional differences? Yes there are, animals as well as humans adapt to the surroundings they most often encounter..

    • Save Bears says:

      Just to add, all we have to do, is look at the specific differences in humans, to understand the regional differences in mammals, if we go to Alaska or the norther reaches of Canada, we do see a difference in humans, if we go to Europe we see differences and if we go to Africa we see differences, these are adaptations based on regional requirements, but they are all the same species, I was really interested in reading the weight reports averages for the wolves taken during the hunting season, with the lower weights, we are already starting to see adaptations taking place based on region..

    • jon says:

      The buffalo wolves were basically the same weights as the wolves now save bears.

      The Great Plains Wolf (Canis lupus nubilus), also known as the Buffalo Wolf, is a subspecies of the Gray Wolf, native to North America. This subspecies once ranged across the western United States and southern Canada, but was almost completely wiped out by the 1930s. In 1974, it was listed as an endangered species, and since then its numbers have climbed. By 2004, there was a population estimated at 3,700 wolves living in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Single wolves have been reported in the Dakotas and as far south as Nebraska, but these are considered to be dispersers from packs from outside the states and a breeding population most likely does not live in these states. A typical Great Plains Wolf is 150–210 cm (4.9–6.9 ft) long from snout to tail tip, and weighs between 35 and 60 kg (77 and 130 lb). It usually features a coat blended with gray, black, buff, or red.

    • Talks with Bears says:

      Save Bears – so, in your opinion why is the subtle genetic difference not important when it comes to wolves but, vitally important when it comes to the westslope cutthroat?

    • Barb Rupers says:

      You asked for the species, it is lupus. You must have wanted the subspecies.

      I used data that Ralph had from the introduced wolves. The largest wolf reintroduced into Idaho weighed 135 pounds. I calculated the average weight of the adult wolves introduced into Idaho; in 1995 twelve from sw Alberta, and in 1996 fifteen from ne BC. These average weights were 87.0 and 112.6 pounds respectively giving an average for the two years of 101.2 pounds.

      The adults that were released in Yellowstone during those years had average weights of 104 and 109 pounds with an average for the two years of 107 pounds (all rounded to the nearest whole number.)

      Taking away 75 – 100 pounds doesn’t leave much but fluff and teeth for those former real native Idaho wolves.
      The data for Idaho 1995 is here:

  30. ProWolf in WY says:

    I hope these size figures get published so maybe people can come off this Canadian wolf stuff. These need to go the state government. It’s strange I don’t hear nearly as many people here or in Montana go on and on about Canadian wolves. I even had one coworker who thought that Canadian wolves were the ones in Minnesota.

    As far as the debate about using the word harvest or kill, can we just agree to disagree on that one?

    Ralph, you had said a number for wolf population goals was 519. Why that number?

    • jon says:

      Well, the weights are public knowledge really, but anti wolf people refuse to believe them. They still in their minds believe this wolf is a much bigger wolf that was imported from Canada.

  31. Rita K. Sharpe says:

    Thank you,Jon,for the information on the Canis lupus nubilus.

  32. Save Bears says:


    The west slopes are a completely different subject, that I don’t have any knowledge of, I would have to leave that to my colleagues that specialize in fish, I work with mammals..I have never even looked at the genetic profile for fish..

  33. Craig says:

    I predicted a long time ago the quato would never be Met, and I was right, you now will see the real killing and not from hunters!

  34. Talks with Bears says:

    Barb – thanks for the info. What other distinct variations would one find in the different subspecies of wolves? All this focus on weight, how about the other important traits such as temperment, speed, jaw power, average pack size etc.?

    • Barb Rupers says:

      Not being an expert I can not answer your questions.

      My supposition is that pack size may vary with the prey taken; larger packs for elk than for deer.

      The reason I focused on weight is because the data is available and I get tired of hearing about those huge introduced wolves. They weren’t.

  35. Talks with Bears says:

    Barb – roger on the weight issue, I was just asking about other traits because weight is all I hear also. Barb, do you have a favorite read about wolf pack evolution of hunting styles? I have been curious as to how these packs evolve over time playing to pack genetic strengths and minimizing weakness.

  36. Si'vet says:

    I read with interest this AM that wolf population numbers in Idaho are up 4% over last year even after the first ever hunting season, and aggressive control measures. Does anyone have the final elk count survey for the entire state for this spring?

  37. pointswest says:

    The average height for an early 17th-century English man was approximately 5’ 6″. Average for a modern Americans man is just over 5’ 9″. I think the only possible explanation is sub-speciation. The hard life of the American colonies selected the genes of taller men, perhaps because they could reach fruit higher in the trees. I propose that we classify these to subspecies of men as Homo Erectus Englishious and Homo Erectus Americanous.

    A slight change in the genes is the only explanation for the size difference.

    Funny Ha Ha…actually the field of genetics is undergoing a revolution right now. After mapping genomes for several species (including Homo Erectus) geneticists have realized that genes only begin to explain the differences in organism of the same species. A new field of science has opened up called epigenetics. Epigenetics is the study of how genes express themselves and, in theory, this expression can be the result of environmental stimulus. For example, a hypothesis is that if your grandfather experienced starvation, an epigenetic switch will have been tripped that will make it much easier for you to get fat (I guess we American all had starving grandfathers).
    Some genetics is still valid but I find the hair splitting on size and subspecies of wolves to be fairly pointless. The term “subspecies” has always been tenuous and ill-defined. I also find it hard to believe you could have a subspecies boundary in the Great Plains where there are no natural impediments to travel and migration across it and wolves 500 years ago could easily have traveled between Yellowstone and Alberta because of the plains and because the many valleys in the basin-and-range province of Montana…wolves can easily roam throughout the West. I suspect the differences in wolves are more of a spectrum of their genes with some additional differences expressed by their epigenome.

  38. JEFF E says:

    Probably doesn’t mean much but it looks like they had a couple late kills which kicked the number up to 188.
    Also probably does not mean much but a hunter is only required to produce a pelt and skull so I wonder about the “weight” category. It sounds like most brought in the entire carcass on the way to the dump.

  39. Elk275 says:

    ++I don’t know if this is appropriate to post on here, but it seems there are quite a few creeps who work for Idaho fish and game.++

    Jon, Creeps is plural and this is about one individual and not a number of Idaho Fish and Game employees. It is very unfortunate. Within any group of people there is an individual like this and one could be very well lurking in a very pro wolf non-profit. Let’s not cast stones for we maybe some day be the one stoned.

  40. jon says:

    Well, there are a few other people I know of that work for Idaho fish and game and I consider them creeps, not the kind of creep that employee who got arrested is though. 🙂 A different kind of creep indeed.

  41. Si'vet says:

    My opinion not appropriate. Neither is “quite a few” when it’s one individual.
    How about a link to one profession that doesn’t have at least one bad apple include ALL religions.. What’s the point? Already proven guilty?

  42. jon says:

    The guy who got arrested is indeed a creep. There are other creeps who work for Idaho fish and game, but they are a different kind of creep si’vet. There are indeed bad apples in all religions. I just had to pick on Idaho fish and game because I’m not a fan of them to put it mildly. 🙂

  43. Si'vet says:

    ok, I am not sure how involved you get with the IF&G, but there are also some very, very stand up folks that work for IFG. And if this fellow is found guilty he should pay the price. I just think we should wait for the verdict.

  44. JEFF E says:

    As there in not an “interesting news thread at present”

  45. Save Bears says:

    What happened to the term “Innocent until proven guilty and judge by a jury of peers”? I would hope this is not true, but we are all innocent until such time as we are proven guilty! In my travels I have seen many different types of people do things that are despicable..but I don’t judge until such time as the court finds them guilty..if found guilty, then he needs to pay the ultimate price…

  46. JimT says:

    Unfortunately, that concept is sadly outdated. In these days of twitting, facebooking, blogging, 24 news cycles, once the accusation is made, you are cooked, at least in the minds of the public. Try recovering from a false accusation of sexual assault, or spousal abuse, etc. THAT is what the folks remember, thanks to sleeze TV and newspapers.

    Legally? Still and always should be the standard. Reality? People like scandal and remember the worst of the story, not the best.

  47. timz says:

    A comment in the Statesman after the story by a reader.

    “Idaho Fish and Game officials will answer questions about Idaho’s first wolf hunt at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Trophy Room at Fish and Game headquarters” After the question and Answer session, there will be a free showing of the movie “Deliverance”

    Now that’s humor.

  48. dewey says:

    I have an analogy or two for those of you who are engaging in the circular arguments about ” How many subspecies of Wolves ? “. The next time you are bored in a room full of people or waiting for the movie to start , look around and do some armchair taxonomy of Homo sapiens. ( You and yours ).

    My presentation on this topic: The first time I visited New York City, in 1977, I was transfixed by one huge photo wall in the Metropolitan Museum. The permanent exhibit known as the ” Family of Man” is a giant collage of a few hundred sub-photos, each image an example of an ethnic or racial or tribal or “sovereign” unit of Man. I recall vaguely there were something like 489 images. Purportedly , every differential of human being was represented, from 7 foot tall Masai to Pygmies, from the Innuit to Maya ; Dutch to East Indian sea gypsies, French to Polynesians, Sioux Indian to Hindhu Indian, Manchurian to Maori , etc etc etc.

    The diversity of these images will transfix you ( find the coffee table book of this exhibit at your public library, if they have it. They should. Required reading IMHO ). The point is: they are all one single Genus-species. We can all interbreed successfully and produce offspring. But the visual and physical diversity will astound you.

    Canis Lupus is Canis lupus. The subspecie argument for Canadian vs American/Rocky Mountain wolves is pretty thin. Osborne Russell, the trapper who kept a diary in the 1830’s described three different “kinds” of wolves… Buffalo Wolf ( big, hung out with Bison and Elk herds) , Prairie Wolf ( medium size all-arounder) , Medicine Wolf ( our Coyote ). The layman’s observation as recorded by Russell is similar to our armchair opiners herein.

    I might also add that some recent examples of cloning animals has produced unexpectedly diverse results. A woman of sufficient wherewithal had her dearly departed cat cloned, and the surrogate momma cat gave birth to a litter of five kittens , all concieved from the same genetic material.

    None of the kittens looked remotely alike, even though they were genetically identical, by definition…

  49. McSpocky says:

    I too get angry when I hear the killing of wolves referred to as a “harvest”. It is intentionally done to make wolf killing more palatable to the masses, resulting in less opposition. Plain and simple.


April 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey